NEW YORK -- Frank Crepeau, a veteran foreign correspondent for the Associated Press who mixed a warm and winning wit with tenacious reporting as he covered the declining Soviet bloc and the war-torn Middle East, died in New York on Oct. 11 after a stroke, his family said. He was 74.
Among other stories in a four-decade career that took him from covering Wisconsin sports to reporting on high-stakes diplomacy, Mr. Crepeau scored the first interview in exile with Russian author Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn and filed the bulletin reporting Anwar Sadat's peace pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
He retired in 2001 as assistant international editor, a job in which his sympathetic ear and wise counsel helped a generation of AP journalists in conflict zones and hard-pressed bureaus around the world. ``He took the time to get to know us and keep us motivated," recalled London correspondent Tom Wagner.
Mr. Crepeau served as bureau chief in Moscow during the rise of the Soviet dissident movement, and as head of AP's office in Israel as the Camp David process brought the promise of peace. But it was while based in Germany on his first foreign assignment that he got an early taste of Cold War politics.
In January 1969, five months after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Mr. Crepeau rushed to Prague to cover the funeral of Jan Palach, a student who set himself afire in Wenceslas Square to protest the occupation of his country. But Czech authorities rounded him up along with 12 other Western correspondents and expelled them, confiscating Mr. Crepeau's notes and film in the process.
``A modest, quiet-spoken man, he nevertheless is tenacious on assignment," his first foreign bureau chief, Richard O'Malley, wrote at the time.
Assigned to Israel in 1976, Mr. Crepeau was there a year later when Sadat, Egpyt's president, in a dramatic peace overture, made the first official visit by an Arab leader to the Jewish state.
When the Egyptian's motorcade reached Jerusalem, Mr. Crepeau filed a bulletin capturing the historic moment with simplicity: `` President Anwar Sadat of Egypt came to Jerusalem Saturday night."
He leaves his wife, Anne, and a son, Alexandre, both of New York, and two grandchildren.